Orchard Park (WKBW.com) The Buffalo Bills hit the practice field on Wednesday as the team gets ready to host the Philadelphia Eagles. Head Coach Chan Gailey and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick spoke with reportes following practice, below are the transcripts from those interviews.
Head Coach Chan Gailey
On Philadelphia playing more zone defense this year:
They’re playing some zone but their corners play a lot of man on man. It may be zone inside but it’s man (coverage) outside. I see them using their corners in the way that I think everybody expected them to use the corners.
On the challenge of Philadelphia’s defense:
Their pass rush is extremely good. We feel like it’s going to be a challenge for our offensive line with Chris (Hairston) at LT, a new left tackle, facing a group like this. It’s going to be a challenge for our guys. You can’t just sit there and run the football. You’ve got to throw the football. We’ll see how it works out, but you can’t sit there, hold the ball, pat it and wait for everybody to get down the field 15 yards.
On the offense being balanced this week:
You’ve got to be able to run the football. And hopefully we’ll be better at it this week and be able to create some more yardage where we are a little bit better balanced.
On wanting to get RB Fred Jackson more carries with a high yards per carry average:
You’d like to get him involved a little bit more and let him carry the ball. We split him out and we’re trying to get him involved in the pass game, too, because we’ve got some matchup issues for them defensively when he’s split out as well. We’d like to use him a little bit more and create a little better balance than we’ve had.
On RB C.J. Spiller and his role:
There’s only one football and you’ve got some good receivers. And you’ve got a tight end that’s done some good things. You’ve got a running back that’s playing well right now. You can’t do everything you’d like to do. We’ve got some ideas and we’ve got some thoughts but it just hasn’t presented itself at this time the way we’d like to do it. Unfortunately right now it’s like he’s the odd man out. It may not be that way the whole season, right now it is. I still think he’s going to be a very good player for us over the long haul.
On Spiller’s injury update:
I think we’re going to hold him out of practice today. From all indications from the training staff he’ll be ready to go this weekend.
On the overall look at the defense:
We play sporadically and that’s not good for a defense. We’ll look really good at times and then we just don’t play well at all at times. I think if I had to say one thing, I’ve seen us do it, so I know we’re capable, so if I had to say one thing we’ve got to create more consistency on defense. We obviously have to stop the run. You can’t give up big plays and that’s where it all starts is in the running game.
On defending Eagles QB Michael Vick:
You have to be disciplined. You have to change things up. You can’t let him out of the pocket. You can’t go running up inside and let him bail out and get him on the corner. That’s when he’s really dangerous when he can run it or throw it and he has time to see the field. There’s no one way to play him or somebody would have already figured it out. You’ve got to keep doing different things and see what fits your style and what fits best against them each week.
On if it’s different defending Vick now because he’s so good in the pocket:
That is different now. If you let him just sit there in the pocket, yes, he’ll hurt you.
On who’s going to practice as Vick from the scout team:
We’ll work on that some with different drills to get that done. Right now, Tyler (Thigpen) will be it.
On being disciplined defensively against the Eagles’ offense:
They can beat you a lot of different ways. They can beat you deep, they can beat you across and they can hand it off if you start playing too deep with your safeties. All of the sudden they hand it off and (LeSean) McCoy’s running down the field. You have to have gap control when it’s run and you’ve got to get to your spots when it’s pass. They’ve got a lot of different ways to burn you.
On the Bills and Eagles teams being total opposites, “Dream Team vs. Goons”:
I guess from an outsider’s standpoint it might be that way. But all are good enough to play in the NFL. You have to line up and play on Sunday’s. That’s the great thing about our game is you have to play on Sunday.
On if he can think of a faster offense collectively, other than Philadelphia, that he’s faced:
Probably somewhere in the days with the Raiders, probably, but I can’t recall it right now. But that’s what it reminds you of.
On why the Eagles’ defense has been giving up the big plays:
It’s just tackling for them. Really they miss tackles. That’s what’s happened to them. They’ve got people in the right spots; they’re just missing the tackles. They’ve given up some big plays because of it. There’s nothing wrong with them fundamentally at all.
On third down conversions and the emphasis this week:
It’s a big point of emphasis this week, is third down conversion. Normally when I talk about things that we have to do to win the game with the team its things that the other team does well that we have to get better at so that we can negate that. One of the points this week is us on third down. It doesn’t have anything to do with them. We’ve got to get better on third down. We had way too many third downs, six minuses, that we didn’t convert. We had not been doing that but we did it this past week.
On what qualifies as balance these days for an offense:
I think it differs by team to team. The Raiders probably aren’t 41-percent run, but I think it depends on your team. Balanced is obviously 50/50 but I don’t know if anybody’s ever ended up the year 50/50.
On DB Bryan Scott’s role on the team:
He is a unique guy. He’s got defensive back skills and he has linebacker size. When you have that combination it gives you some latitude about how you can use a guy. He plays inside linebacker at times and then he’ll go back and play deep for us sometimes. We’re fortunate to have a guy like that. You’d like to have a few more that can be versatile like that and create some problems for the offense with speed along with some size.
On the kickoff coverage unit and the job they’ve done:
They’re doing a great job. The kickoff team has just been remarkable. I think it really; the rule has helped us tremendously. I don’t know the statistics but at one point we had more tackles inside the 20 than any other team. I don’t know if we’re still there or not, but if we can keep doing that and make people go over 80, we’ll help our football team.
On rookie LT Chris Hairston and what he brings to the team:
There has been improvement in his game. He’s worked very hard at it, first of all. He was injured so much early, we didn’t get a chance to work with him. Even the two preseason games he played in he was still a little nicked up. I think he’s improved his game over the last three or four weeks to the point where he gets to now go find out how good he is. It’ll be a challenge for him to say the least. He’s done some good things, but you get to find out on game day whether it’s all really there or not. The good thing is he played left tackle in college.
On if the Eagles’ 1-3 record is surprising:
Yes I think I am surprised that they’ve lost three times. At the same time, I guess I look at football teams and I watch them on film and I don’t see how they lost any (games) because they all look good. It seems like anytime I put on film of somebody they look really good. I’m shocked when any team we’re getting ready to play and I watch film I can’t believe they’ve lost, period.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
On the challenge for rookie LT Chris Hairston making his first start against the Eagles’ defense:
It is a tough test. Any week, a rookie steeping in, is going to have a nice test for him. But this week in particular, up front they get after the passer. They’ve got a lot of sacks on the year and a lot of that is just created from their front four guys.
On not being as comfortable rolling out to his left with a new starter at left tackle:
It doesn’t really matter. We’re not going to adjust what we do. We’ve got to have him (Chris Hairston) fill in and go play. We can’t pay too much attention to that. We’ve just got to go out and do our stuff.
On RB C.J. Spiller:
I feel like in the first couple of games he had some touches where he did some good stuff with the ball. I think Fred’s (Jackson) played at a high level, that’s been part of it. We’re just trying to get Fred as many touches as possible. I think part of it too is we’ve been coming from behind the last couple weeks and a lot of that limits your run game and it limits really what you can do. We had him out at receiver a little bit trying to do some stuff with him. I’m going to throw it where the coverage dictates where I throw it. I think a lot of it’s been more circumstance than not getting him in there and getting him plays.
On wanting to be able to make the big plays with Spiller:
Absolutely. He’s showed that capability. It’s just a matter of getting him more touches and we’ve probably got to do a better job of that. But we’ve got to do a better job of not falling behind early so we don’t have to rely on the passing game all game.
On Spiller being close to the big plays a couple of times:
He’s been close a couple of times. It’s just been the shoestring tackles, but eventually I think we’re going to break loose a few times and we’ll get some big plays out of it.
On the pretenders and contenders becoming clearer:
It’s game five. It’s still early. Seeing what we did last week, coming off a loss, we’d really like to get some of that momentum back. They’re 1-3 but they’re a very good football team. If you look at the things that they’ve done - the speed and the explosiveness that they have offensively and defensively - they’re better than a 1-3 football team. So it’s not a team that we’ll take lightly.
On if the Eagles play more zone defense:
No, I’ve played them once before and they were in a lot of pressuring and different exotic looks. I think they trust the guys they have back there and they’re not doing as much of that but that was years ago, I think that’s when I was a rookie. So I wasn’t too familiar with what they’ve been doing in the past but they’ve obviously got a lot of good players over there.
On making the big plays against their defense:
If you look at it, there hadn’t been a lot of downfield balls completed on them. Some of it’s a catch and run and some of it’s through the running game. It’s tough to get these guys deep. We’re just going to do what we do and hopefully go out there and make some plays down the field. Whether it’s a tough contested catch or by design somebody gets open. We’ve got to play within ourselves and not really adjust to what they’re doing.
On what he thinks of the Eagles’ ‘Dream Team’ label:
Just like how our guys call themselves the “goon squad” for the receivers, I don’t think it matters.
On the Eagles’ pass rush:
They get after the passer. They’ve had a lot of sacks and they’ve had a lot of near sacks where they’re creating a lot of pressure. So that’s an issue for us this week as it is every week in terms of not being able to stand back there like a statue and doing what we’re doing every week which is a good mix of getting the ball out and taking our shots downfield hoping that it works out.
On why not just run the ball against their 30th ranked run defense:
There have been some big plays through the ground on them this year. I know we’re going to go to our strengths - whether it’s running the ball or throwing the ball this week - we’re going to do what’s going to put us in the best situation
On the team converting third downs:
We’ve struggled the last couple of weeks with the third down stuff. A lot of that falls on me in terms of me throwing to the right guy, being smart about where I’m going and when I’m taking chances and not and keeping our offense on the field. That’s something that I haven’t done well the last few weeks and something that hopefully we address and do a better job this week.
On if he’s surprised that the Eagles are 1-3:
Football’s not just about one guy or even two, three or four guys. It’s a total team game. Not only if you have a good offense. You’ve got to have the defense to back you up. You’ve got to have special teams playing. Football’s unique in that there is no one or two guys that are going to elevate you to the highest level. You’re not guaranteed to get to the Super Bowl because there are so many different factors that are involved. I think people are surprised that they’re 1-3 and people are probably that we’re 3-1, too. It’s a team game. There’s only so much in the offseason, there’s so much hype and stuff but you have to go out there and do it during the season.
On if the things that QB Michael Vick does impress him:
He’s insane. He’s out of this world just in terms of his play making ability. Being able to throw from the pocket, being able to escape and throw out of the pocket, his running ability obviously and his arm strength. Most of it I can’t even comprehend because he’s such a great athlete. It’s fun to watch.